Protect your pupper

A few days after Archie came to live with me, he was attacked by two big dogs.

He was working on settling into life here and couldn’t toilet in our yard, so I was walking him three or four times a day to make sure he was comfortable. I set off for a quick up the road and back walk at dusk one evening, and had my headphones in so I could talk to my mum hands free.

We went further than I had planned and were almost at the local park when he did his business, so even though I was wearing thongs, I went into the park over near the off-leash area to use the bin. And it was when we were on our way back to the gate from the bin that two dogs, the breed I am not sure of, came running up to us. I remember saying in a light tone, even though I was choking back terror: “Hi! Are you guys friendly?” in the instant before Archie was flipped on his back.

I don’t remember much about what happened next except that whenever I think about it, the sound of my own screams plays back. Because of the headphones, that delightful soundtrack also includes my mum saying: “What’s happening? What’s going on?” over and over. It must have been terrifying to hear that unfolding without being able to see it.

It took two big men to control the dogs. They’d slipped their yard while the same guys were loading a car onto a trailer. But we were lucky (by we, I mean me and Arch), and he only had a superficial wound on his belly. I actually think we bonded a lot because of this experience, and I saw a real change in him settling in the days that followed.

A few months ago, my mum and Jack were attacked while on holiday in a QLD outback town. Once again, there was an element of luck involved as mum managed to swing Jack up into her arms by his harness and leash (little dog life) and protect him.

So my family has been twice lucky, but last week, one of Archie’s daycare friends was not. Little Molly Moodle lost her life in an off-leash area, and I am shaken and devastated, as are most people from our doggy community.

With the number of dog attacks rising (probably as a symptom of people not training their dogs or fencing their yards adequately), Paws and Relax has been making real strides to help Brisbane dog owners be educated as to how they can protect their puppers in the event of an attack. Obviously, vigilance is important, and I’ve never walked in a completely ‘relaxed’ manner since our attack, but after going to a Dog Attack seminar at P&R a couple of weeks ago, I feel a lot better equipped to handle threats and less terrified when I see another dog coming. My treat bag which was once an embarrassment (because Archie couldn’t walk nicely without snacks), has also now got a whole bunch of things inside that will help me be a better defender of my bestie (and myself).

A couple of quick tips I learned at the seminar:

  • A compact umbrella is a great, small defence tool. If a dog attacks, you can press the button and throw it as it opens. A dog’s field of vision goes from close to far, so it should be enough of an impact to break its focus and give you time to act
  • Carry something noisy. I’ve now got an alarm in my bag that if you rip the tab, it’ll fire and make a noise that will not only distract the dog but attract attention. One of the most disturbing things about when Archie and I were attacked is how long it took someone to come and help even though I was screaming “HELP!”
  •  Always walk in closed toed shoes, even if it is just a bathroom walk two metres from home. I could have actually helped the situation if my feet were covered, but my thongs rendered me completely useless

But there were far, far too many awesome tips for me to write in one blog post, so my advice is if you’re a Brisbanite, keep an eye on the Paws and Relax Facebook page, because I’m told that the seminar will be re-run in 2018. They have also just started a training course for parents and their dogs called Critical Response Skills. This three week course will be run for the first time from this Saturday and costs just $99. We can’t take it this time around, but you can 100% bet that when it’s run again, Archie and I will be there.

Photos of both Archie and Jack on this page are by Hairypants Photography


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